After more than a year of preparations, custom injection molder Thermotech switched over April 6 to R/3 client/server enterprise application software from SAP AG.
The system ``links all aspects of our business,'' John Bonham said in a telephone interview. Bonham became vice president and general manager of Hopkins, Minn.-based Thermotech on Jan. 1, succeeding long-time executive Robert Radunz, now retired.
SAP installed the R/3 system at the Minnesota facility and other Thermotech plants in St. Petersburg, Fla., and El Paso, Texas.
Thermotech employs 605 and makes high-technology parts for automotive, medical, electrical and electronics applications using 85 presses in Hopkins, 35 in St. Petersburg and 23 in El Paso. Clamping forces range from 40-440 tons.
Thermotech's parent firm, Menasha Corp. of Neenah, Wis., initiated the software upgrade. Thermotech is the third Menasha division to adopt the software. The first Menasha installation occurred in 1996. Menasha had 1997 sales of $933 million of which Thermotech accounted for $69.2 million.
Bonham joined Menasha in 1983 and, prior to his Thermotech assignment, was vice president and general manager of Menasha's molded products division in Watertown, Wis. During the transition but in a separate move, the corporation created a new division for its Monson, Mass., facility, now known as Montec Plastics. Thermotech had managed the Monson site since its acquisition in 1978.
``To install SAP, you must really understand the details of your business,'' Bonham said. He believes Thermotech will ``take a while to discover [R/3's] true potential'' but anticipates benefits from its ``ability to make customer requirements visible throughout the organization.''
Typically, businesses have ``islands of automation and islands of information,'' said David Mazzoni, chemical manager in Philadelphia with SAP's process strategic business unit.
``R/3 integrates all of an enterprise's business processes'' requiring functions to work together rather than as islands, Mazzoni said. ``The total integration fosters teamwork between members of the business organization.''
Walldorf, Germany-based SAP was founded in 1972 and employs more than 13,000 at offices in 50 countries. Using a memory-based architecture, SAP introduced R/3 in 1992 and extended the capabilities with release 3.0 in 1995.